Directed by Arturs Latkovskis [Other horror films: N/A]
There’s little doubt in my mind that, while the story contained within this found footage movie tends to be a bit generic, The Land of Blue Lakes does have an odd beauty to it, what with the striking setting of Latvia.
To lay my cards on the table, I don’t know much about Latvia aside from their relation to the USSR. What I found interesting is that this film is in Russian, as opposed to Latvian – Russian is spoken by only about 38% of the country, whereas Latvian is spoken by around 60%. I imagine this relates to Russian immigration and the fact Russian and Latvia are geographic neighbors (along with the setting of Latgale). Either way, it stuck out to me.
What also sticks out is how beautiful the movie looks. The film follows a group of five friends who go kayaking through various lakes and camp on different islands, all of which shows off the natural beauty of the environment. Certainly it’s more interesting than people investigating drab buildings.
The question then becomes is the film worth seeing?
Well, I have my personal problems with some elements of the film, such as the opening. To quote the film: “One year ago, five friends went on a trip and never returned. This edited video was found on one of the forums in [the] Deep Web.”
Now, aside from the fact the movie is playing itself off as true (which is something I’ve rarely ever been a fan of, given we all know it’s just a movie), there’s something else in that opening that bothered me, mainly the fact there’s a video at all.
What this implies is that after the events of the film, every media source was collected, and someone (or a group of people) went through all the phones (because the movie isn’t made in just a single POV – almost all of the friends, at one point or another, start recording something) and made a single, coherent video, potentially implicating themselves, and put it online.
Sorry, but I don’t buy it. It doesn’t make sense. It could have, perhaps, if the finale had been a little more clear-cut, but as the finale stands right now, I don’t buy it. I don’t see why the antagonists (if it was indeed the antagonists) would search through everyone’s cameras and phones, edit the multiple videos chronologically, and throw it on the internet. I just don’t see the purpose, and it doesn’t make any sense to me.
Hopefully that doesn’t sound like too much a gripe over nothing, because in my mind, that’s a big issue, especially once we, as an audience, start learning a little more about what’s going on and who might be causing problems for the five friends.
Otherwise, the movie is decent. I mean, aside from the beautiful setting, I wouldn’t call it great, but for a found footage movie, much of the film checks all the right boxes. There’s an interesting set-up (one of the characters is interesting in the pre-Christian pagan religions of the local area), there’s some creepy and unsettling sights (a baby doll nailed to a tree, an eerie triangle structure, and occasional figures standing around, watching the group), and a ramped-up finale.
I do have to say this: I’m not a huge fan of the finale, as it throws in a twist I was predicting, but was really hoping wouldn’t happen. It’s not a bad twist, but it’s also not a big surprise, and it’s not really expanded on to the extent that some might hope for. It’s not a terrible finale, but I think it could have been better if they went another direction with it.
There’s not really a stand-out performance here, but I wanted to mention the cast anyways, as I enjoyed them all to varying degrees. Vladislavs Filipovs, Alina Sedova, Arturs Latkovskis, Edgars Jurgelans, and Veronika Rumjanceva all do a good job, acting naturally and they really feel like a group of good friends. It was a fun vibe at the beginning, with them all making jabs about others’ drinking, screwing around in shopping carts, what have you, and it just felt real.
If you’re a found footage fan, I’d certainly say that The Land of Blue Lakes is worth seeing. I’m not saying the movie is overall special, but it does have a different flavor than many other found footage films I’ve seen, and while I have a few issues here and there, it’s mostly a pretty decent movie, very close to an average rating in my eyes.
As it is, I did think it was marginally below average. It’s still a movie that might be worth giving a shot, especially if you want a little look into Latvia, and on the whole, I would say I had a good time with it.